Breaking Up Housekeeping

Elizabeth Elkin Grammer

in Some Wild Visions

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195139617
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834242 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

Breaking Up Housekeeping

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Itinerant preachers, the women in this study were literally and figuratively “homeless.” Having abandoned housekeeping to become evangelists, they broke away from the ideology of domesticity and true womanhood that had defined them spatially, socially, and culturally. Of course these “female strangers” knew that she who lost her life—with its familiar patterns and meanings—for the sake of Christ, would find it. Ultimately, and inevitably, however, when they came to write their autobiographies, these female evangelists were lost without some familiar cultural referent that applied specifically to women of nineteenth‐century America. Thus while their unorthodox careers took them far beyond the bounds of home, they found it necessary as writers to make much use of the language of domesticity in their efforts to understand themselves, to justify their lives to an audience that regarded them with suspicion, and to find a “home” in American culture.

Keywords: domesticity; domestic ideology; womanhood; autobiographies; nineteenth‐century America; itinerant preachers; female evangelists; American culture; housekeeping; Christ

Chapter.  17592 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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